These Are Not The Droids You’re Looking For (Discovery: CPLR § 3126)

CPLR § 3126 Penalties for refusal to comply with order or to disclose

Emmitt v City of New York, 2009 NY Slip Op 07331 (App. Div., 1st, 2009)

A party that disobeys court-ordered disclosure is subject to preclusion of relevant portions of its evidence (CPLR 3126). The nature of the sanction lies generally within the broad discretion of the court, and should not be disturbed absent an improvident exercise thereof (Gross v Edmer Sanitary Supply Co., 201 AD2d 390 [1994]). In its answer, defendant raised as an affirmative defense that any and all hazards, defects and dangers were of such an open, obvious and apparent nature that they were or should have been known to plaintiff, thus rendering her injuries attributable to her own culpable conduct. There is no reason to bar defendant from pursuing that defense. However, it was not an improvident exercise of discretion to preclude defendant from offering evidence as to the Con Edison permits. We modify only to clarify that it will be conclusively presumed at trial that defendant created or had notice of the trench involved in the accident. This relief will ameliorate the prejudice plaintiff has suffered as a result of defendant’s failure to timely disclose the Con Ed permits. Defendant’s ability to [*2]defend the suit by attributing the accident to plaintiff’s own lack of due care is not impaired.

Minaya v Duane Reade Intl., Inc., 2009 NY Slip Op 06767 (App. Div., 1st, 2009)

In sanctioning defendant for failing to preserve critical evidence, the motion court appropriately exercised its “broad discretion to provide . . . relief to the party deprived of the lost evidence” (Ortega v City of New York, 9 NY3d 69, 76 [2007]). Defendant failed to preserve a video recording that may have shown the stairway before and during plaintiff’s accident. The unavailability to plaintiff of the video recording may have impaired his ability to establish that defendant possessed the requisite notice of a defective condition on the stairs. Under these circumstances, however, the extreme sanction of preclusion is not warranted “to restore balance to the matter” (Baldwin v Gerard Ave., LLC, 58 AD3d 484 [2009]). Rather, an adverse inference is sufficient to prevent defendant from using the absence of the videotape to its own advantage (Tomasello v 64 Franklin, Inc., 45 AD3d 1287 [2007]).

Panagiotou v Samaritan Vil., Inc., 2009 NY Slip Op 07811 (App. Div., 2nd, 2009)

The plaintiffs failed to serve a responsive bill of particulars within the 30-day time limit set in the conditional order of preclusion entered February 25, 2008. The order, therefore, became absolute (see Gilmore v Garvey, 31 AD3d 381; Echevarria v Pathmark Stores, Inc., 7 AD3d 750, 751). To avoid the adverse impact of the conditional order of preclusion, the plaintiffs were required to demonstrate a reasonable excuse for their failure to comply and a meritorious cause of action (see State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co. v Hertz Corp., 43 AD3d 907, 908; Echevarria v Pathmark Stores, Inc., 7 AD3d at 751). The plaintiffs failed to make such a showing. Since the order of preclusion prevents the plaintiffs from establishing a prima facie case, the Supreme Court properly granted the defendants’ separate motions for summary judgment dismissing the complaint (see Calder v Cofta, 49 AD3d 484; State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co. v Hertz Corp., 43 AD3d at 908).

Bender, Jenson & Silverstein, LLP v Walter, 2009 NY Slip Op 08572 (App. Div., 2nd, 2009)

Since the defendant failed to establish that she made any effort to comply with the plaintiff’s repeated discovery requests, the Supreme Court properly considered her lack of cooperation to be willful and contumacious, and properly conditionally granted the plaintiff’s motion to preclude her from introducing the requested documents in evidence (see Kihl v Pfeffer, 94 NY2d 118; D’Aloisi v City of New York, 7 AD3d 750; Brooks v City of New York, 6 AD3d 565; Donovan v City of New York, 239 AD2d 461; cf. Scardino v Town of Babylon, 248 AD2d 371).

In light of the defendant’s noncompliance with discovery, the Supreme Court properly denied her motion to quash certain subpoenas which had been served on nonparty witnesses, on the basis that the information sought was otherwise unobtainable (see Hamilton v Touseull, 48 AD3d 520; Matter of Validation Review Assoc. [Berkuny Schimel], 237 AD2d 614; cf. People v Marin, 86 AD2d 40).

The bold is mine.

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